At least 212 environmental campaigners were murdered worldwide in 2019, Global Witness reports. Colombia and the Philippines combined accounted for just over half of the confirmed deaths. Deaths and killings are “business as usual” for President Rodrigo Duterte and his government.
Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At least 212 environmental campaigners were murdered worldwide in 2019, making last year the deadliest on record for frontline activists battling the destruction of nature, watchdog group Global Witness reported Wednesday.
Colombia and the Philippines combined accounted for just over half of the confirmed deaths -- 64 and 43, respectively -- followed by Brazil, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.
About 40 per cent of victims were indigenous people, and over two-thirds died in Latin America. One in ten were women.
For decades, indigenous communities living in the forests of Central and South America, Asia and Africa have seen their ancestral lands degraded and destroyed, sometimes with the blessing of corrupt local or national governments.
Most of 34 agribusiness-related killings occurred in Asia, especially the Philippines. Two Indonesian activists were stabbed to death in October near a palm oil plantation in northern Sumatra.
In the Philippines, police and counter-insurgency operations led to the massacre of 14 sugar plantation farmers on Negros island in March, only months after nine others had been killed in similar circumstances.
Burning forests not only robs the planet of greenhouse gas absorbing vegetation, it also releases stored CO2 into the atmosphere.
Logging operations were directly linked to 24 deaths, with another 14 related to illegal crop substitution, 11 to land reform, and six to water management or dam construction.
In the Philippines, a Manobo tribal chieftain was killed during a military bombardment while protesting rogue mining operations near Kitaotao, northern Mindanao.
"The Philippines' remaining virgin forests -- like those protected by the Manobo -- are being felled for mineral extraction and profit," the report noted.
"This is 'business as usual' for President Rodrigo Duterte and his government who are forging ahead with policies that prioritize fossil fuels and have passed draconian laws that can be used to silence those trying to stand in their way."